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I have meticulously read through similar questions, answers and their comments but I still do not understand how the deletion is done. From what I understand I email the customer service and then they do what exactly?

1) They disable my account so that I can no longer use it?

2) They reassign all of my questions and answers to some other account? To which one?

3) They delete all my questions and answers so that they go away from public view?

What is the flexibility (if it exists) of the deletion procedure? Is it possible to erase the traces of my former association with the site. Can I request any of the following be done?

4) All of my questions and answers be deleted from public view?

5) Some of my questions and answers be deleted? If yes what criteria?

6) Can I have all of my contributions be assigned to some other account which runs as sort of a "collective account" and already has tons of content so that it doesn't happen like my contributions just move to some other url but still stay grouped under that location and therefore that location can be discovered as representing my account?

7) Can I have my contributions dispersed through several "collective accounts?

8) Can my current public name be removed from any comments to my posts so that my posts cannot be identified later as once belonging to me?

Please be polite with me. I wouldn't have asked if I have found the answer in the other questions. The other questions are also old and it is not clear what the situation is as per 05/2012.

UPDATE (for those interested):

I asked the Stackoverflow team about the procedure. Apparently none of the points 2-8 I asked above are possible, only 1 will take place. The link to my user page from my contributions is going to be removed and replaced with non-clickable text of an anonymized user name like "user1234". Whether this number is the same as my current user_id is not clear. That's all the information I got.

I'm going now to rename myself to "Anonymous" then request the account deletion. Those interested in the procedure will witness the exact result on this page.


share|improve this question
You can't get rid of your posts by deleting your account (due to the license). And quit-mass-deletions of posts are reversed – Manishearth May 7 '12 at 12:51
Has there been a trend already of people leaving en masse and wiping out their content? – user136634 May 7 '12 at 13:18
@DeveloperArt I wouldn't call it a trend, but it happens once in a while. I don't immediately recall any such ragequits from users with a lot of contributions, but I'm sure there's probably been some. – Adam Lear May 7 '12 at 13:21
I'm sorry you're leaving, and I bid you good tidings in your road ahead. – BoltClock's a Unicorn May 10 '12 at 17:58
@BoltClock's a Unicorn: Thank you for your kind words. I appreciate it. – user136634 May 10 '12 at 18:14
up vote 24 down vote accepted

There are two options: Delete and Destroy.

Destroy is an option used on spammers. Their account is anonymized (the user's account information is all removed, including their name, email, website, about me, etc) and all of their posts are deleted. This can only be done to users with a very low reputation, unless you are a Stack Exchange employee. Therefore, if there is an urgent and valid reason for account destruction, and you have lots of rep, a mod cannot do this. You must make your case to team@stackoverflow.

Delete is more forgiving. When you delete an account, the account is anonymized (as above), and only negatively-scored posts are deleted. All of your posts (deleted and not) just appear to come from some anonymous user who doesn't have an account anymore. Again, there is a rep cap for mods attempting to delete. If your account has too much rep, you have to go to team@stackoverflow.

Either way, you will no longer be able to log into your account. You lose all rep and badges. You will no longer own any of your posts.

To answer your other questions quickly,

4) Not unless you're a filthy dirty spammer.
5) Only if nothing of value is lost. This has to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
6, 7) Only with the help of SE employees (more on this below)
8) Probably not without the help of SE employees

If you wish to erase your footprints, the only allowed method is to edit your posts to remove anything that hints at who you are, without destroying content. That means you have to replace what you remove with the same information, but with a different context that cannot be identified as coming from you. Failure to do this may result in your post being reverted and locked. You must do this prior to your account being deleted.

As for @you comments, those have to be removed by SE employees. I don't think any mod wants to spend hours doing something a query or two can handle.

All posts will appear to come from the same anonymous user. Only team members have the ability to alter this. You would have to request this via team@, but I'd give it a low chance of success.

share|improve this answer
Would it be okay if I deleted some 30-50% of my posts which in my opinion do not carry any particular value (basically deprecated or overcome by later more thorough answers)? – user136634 May 7 '12 at 13:17
@DeveloperArt: Possibly. They might end up undeleted. But if they have a low score and there are better answers, then its probably ok. – Won't May 7 '12 at 13:27
Won't (no pun intended) disassociated posts keep the last username which was set in the profile? – Time Traveling Bobby May 7 '12 at 14:31
@Kobobby: No, they get anonymized. However I don't (99% sure) believe this includes comments. Comments are denormalized, so that @you will still say @you. – Won't May 7 '12 at 14:43
I'm 100% sure that comments will not change, they're pure text after all and the @-stuff is only past directly after sending and I'd be very surprised if there was still a reference to the user (Id vise) left. – Time Traveling Bobby May 7 '12 at 14:45
@Kobobby: It can be done via an update query with a completely non-performant where clause. I (99%) believe they don't bother slaughtering the database in order to fix comments. – Won't May 7 '12 at 14:48
I'm 99% sure they'd rather run a TRUNCATE before running such an UPDATE on the database. – Time Traveling Bobby May 7 '12 at 14:53
@Kobobby: I'm (99%) sure we have reached consensus on this matter. – Won't May 7 '12 at 14:58
@Won't what happens to the 2K votes that were made by Developer Art? – Some Helpful Commenter May 7 '12 at 16:15
@SomeHelpfulCommenter: Hell, I don't care. You have them. What I want is the 35k rep he has on SO! – Won't May 7 '12 at 19:15
@Won't I'd like that too, but I was trying to point out that you omitted that votes are destroyed too. Also I don't know what happens to bouties that the user intitated – Some Helpful Commenter May 7 '12 at 19:59
Is this post OBE? – msh210 May 21 '13 at 18:03
It would be helpful to expand this post with a clarification that content that's already in the data dumps will not be anonymized and can therefore still be traced back by someone who's dedicated enough. – E.P. Mar 20 '14 at 13:07
@episanty: Go for it. – Won't Mar 20 '14 at 14:02

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